A brand new item that celebrates a special moment in an ICON's career which propelled them to the top of the footballing world! Only select ICONS will get a Prime ICON Moments version, with upgraded ratings and a historic Action Shot.
After an illustrious goalscoring record on the European stage, Filipo Inzaghi turned record-breaker during Milan’s visit to Deportivo de La Coruña in the UEFA Champions League group stages in 2002. After his side took an early lead, Inzaghi put the game to bed with a record third UEFA Champions League hat-trick. This took his tally to 40 goals in European competition, surpassing the previous Italian record of 39.
Ryan Giggs was the hero as he scored the winning goal for Manchester United in their 1999 FA Cup semi-final replay victory against Arsenal. With just over ten minutes of extra-time remaining and the sides locked at 1-1, Giggs scored a goal worthy of winning any game. Picking up the ball in his own half, the Welshman showcased his remarkable dribbling ability to weave through four defenders before rifling the ball into the roof of the net. It is one of the most iconic goals in FA Cup history.
Securing trophy number two of their famous 1999 treble, Paul Scholes played a pivotal role as Manchester United beat Newcastle to secure a tenth FA Cup for the club. With just ten minutes on the clock, Scholes combined well with Teddy Sheringham to assist the striker for the opening goal. Scholes then doubled his side’s advantage soon after half-time, latching on to a lay-off to score a driven left-footed shot from outside the box, a goal which proved decisive as the game finished 2-0.
Javier Zanetti captained Inter to the Serie A title in 2006-07. Zanetti scored his first goal in over four years during Inter’s 17-game winning run, but his biggest moment came on 22 April 2007. Following a 2-1 win away to Siena, Zanetti received his first on-field Scudetto – a moment he later described as “unforgettable”.
In May 1998, Jari Litmanen featured for Ajax against rivals PSV in the Dutch Cup final and enjoyed one of the greatest moments of his career. Fresh from sealing the league title by a considerable distance over their opponents, Litmanen followed it up with cup success in style by hitting a hat-trick. The first goal was struck from close range after a fine piece of play from Ajax, while he sealed his hat-trick with two more in the second half which helped his side seal a thumping 5-0 win.
Luís Figo helped his country to secure a famous victory in Portugal’s opening fixture of the UEFA Euro 2000 tournament. After falling behind to two early goals, Figo responded almost immediately in the 22nd minute with a thunderous strike from 30 yards, carrying the ball through midfield before thumping the ball past a motionless David Seaman. The goal inspired his side to go on and win the game 3-2.
During the 1986 FIFA World Cup™, Diego Maradona produced an historic moment of magic when he scored what is arguably the goal of the century in a clash against England. Picking up the ball in his own half, Maradona quickly fended off two English players before making his way down the pitch. Beating player after player, Maradona continued running with the ball until rounding goalkeeper Peter Shilton and slotting the ball home in style.
Bobby Moore played an integral role in guiding England to glory in the FIFA World Cup™ final in 1966. As well as being England's captain, Moore's smart thinking in the first half allowed him to deliver a quick free-kick which Geoff Hurst netted to bring England to 1-1. However, he topped this moment when deep intro extra-time, Moore played a long ball forward from defence to set Hurst away to score England's 4th and seal FIFA World Cup™ glory.
With his incredible technical skills, Johan Cruyff was the master of footballing trickery. This is reflected no better than by the fact that to this day Cruyff has a famous piece of skill named after him. Instigated at the 1974 FIFA World Cup™, Cruyff produced a moment of magic where his quick turn and change of direction left Swedish defender Jan Olsson for dead and the 'Cruyff Turn' was created and would be attempted to be replicated by generations to come.
In 1982, Sócrates captained Brazil in the FIFA World Cup™ finals and it didn't take long for him to leave his mark. Facing the Soviet Union, the Brazilians found themselves one down deep into the second half. Collecting the ball outside of the area, Sócrates evaded the first challenge, jinked past the next defender and then riffled home a powerful effort into the top left corner of the goal. Things got even better for the Brazilians soon after when they scored an 89th minute winner.
Having lost 0-1 to the USSR in the group stage of the 1988 UEFA European Championships, Ruud Gullit and Holland eyed a chance of revenge when they faced the same team in the final. Captaining the Oranje, Gullit opened the scoring in the 32nd minute with a powerful and well-placed header. Gullit’s great awareness had left him unmarked when he lurked behind the defensive line. Ruud Gullit and Holland went on to beat USSR 2-0, lifting their first ever major trophy in a truly historic moment.
One of Gary Lineker’s finest international performances came against Poland in the final group game at the 1986 FIFA World Cup™. With England needing a win to ensure progression to the knock-out stages, Lineker scored a hat-trick after just 34 first-half minutes – the second quickest in FIFA World Cup™ history. Lineker added a further three goals later in the tournament, and his six strikes earned him the Golden Boot.
Pelé opened the scoring against Italy after just 18 minutes of the FIFA World Cup™ final in 1970, his third final. Finding space at the back post following a throw-in, Pelé leapt to head in a cross by Rivelino before jumping into Jairzinho’s arms with his arm raised in an iconic celebration. Pelé went on to assist the third and fourth goals in an impressive performance as Brazil ran out 4-1 winners. The victory ensured Pelé became the first player to win the FIFA World Cup™ on three occasions.
During the 1966 FIFA World Cup™, 36-year-old Lev Yashin defied a knee injury to contribute heavily to the Soviet Union’s best-ever showing at the competition. Despite his country being reduced to ten men early in the semi-final against West Germany, Yashin produced several brilliant saves to keep his side in the game before ultimately falling to a 2-1 defeat.
Arsenal arrived at Old Trafford knowing a draw would be enough to secure the 2001-02 Premier League title. Spirits were high after beating Chelsea in the FA Cup final a few days previously, but the visitors were without key men Henry, Adams and Bergkamp. This put added pressure on stand-in captain Patrick Vieira, but the Frenchman certainly didn’t disappoint. He produced a dominant display, shielding his back four and helping his side battle to a 1-0 win to secure the title.
With only seven matches remaining in Serie A in the 1998-99 season, Paolo Maldini and AC Milan overcame a strong Parma side, winning 2-1. Having trailed 0-1, Italian great Maldini scored a stunning equalizer in the second half, with a powerful long shot into the top left corner. The crucial victory inspired Milan’s remarkable seven-match winning streak, leading Maldini to lift his first Serie A trophy as a captain since Franco Baresi’s retirement, clinching the title by only one point.
Eusébio produced a sensational performance against North Korea at the 1966 FIFA World Cup™. After 25 minutes the Portuguese found themselves trailing 0-3 and in deep trouble. However, Eusébio rescued his side with four consecutive goals. The first was a strike into the top corner from inside the area, before scoring the 2nd with a penalty. After slotting home the 3rd, Eusébio then scored a further penalty for his fourth to seal a remarkable comeback.
Deco was the key player for FC Porto in the 2004 UEFA Champions League Final against AS Monaco. Being marked closely, he soon began to find open spaces by drifting wide and stretching out the defence, showing sublime awareness. A deadly counter in the 71st minute left the opposition outsmarted, as Deco received the ball on the edge of the box, stopped his run, eyed the lower right corner and brilliantly finished to the left. Deco was named Man of the Match after helping beat Monaco 3-0.
Michael Laudrup and FC Barcelona celebrated a historic moment winning their first major European trophy In the 1992 European Cup final, by beating Sampdoria 1-0 late in extra time. Laudrup proved crucial for Barça with his incredible tactical-intelligence as a False 9. Unselfish as he was, Laudrup utilized his sublime vision and masterful through balls to nearly assist Stoichkov twice. While his memorable performance didn’t lead to a goal, it remains a true highlight in his remarkable career.
Alan Shearer produced one of his finest footballing moments in February 1997, with Newcastle United trailing 1-3 at home to Leicester City in the Premier League and with just 13 minutes left on the clock. In the 77th minute he gave St James’ Park hope by reducing the deficit with a powerful free-kick from the edge of the box, before equalising in the 85th minute with a goal from just inside the area. Shearer completed a famous hattrick with a back-post tap-in to give Newcastle an unlikely victory.
Roberto Baggio scored twice to help Italy defeat Nigeria in the Round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup™ in July 1994. Italy had fallen behind in the 15th minute but Baggio rescued his country with a calm side-foot finish from just inside the box in the 89th minute. With the game going in to extra-time, Baggio kept his nerve to score the winning goal from the penalty spot as Italy ran out 2-1 winners. He continued his scoring form in the following rounds to lead Italy to the final against Brazil.
At the start of his third season for Arsenal, Dennis Bergkamp scored his first hat-trick for the club in style. The first two were special goals in their own right, a curling effort from the edge of the box and a clever chip over the goalkeeper, but it was the third goal that Bergkamp proclaimed as his best for the club. Running on to a pass with the ball dropping over his shoulder, he controlled it with the right foot, chipped a defender with his left foot and finished with a curling effort.
Gerrard was in inspired form as Liverpool eventually overcame West Ham in a thrilling 2006 FA Cup final. With the Reds 2-0 down within half an hour, Gerrard responded with a pinpoint assist before levelling things up with a thunderous strike. A freak West Ham goal seemed to be the decider until Liverpool’s captain fantastic rescued the game with a sublime long-range effort in the dying moments. Liverpool went on to win on penalties, Gerrard converting his spot kick to top-off a heroic display.
In the 1998 FIFA World Cup™, Marcel Desailly’s France faced Italy in the quarter-finals. Facing a strong Italian side, Desailly proved to the world his phenomenal defensive prowess. After 120 minutes of resolute defending and with the score deadlocked at 0-0, Les Bleus clawed their way into the semi-finals by beating Italy 3-4 in a nerve-racking penalty shootout to send the home crowd into euphoric celebrations.
In the first 2006 FIFA World Cup™ semi-final, Fabio Cannavaro produced an outstanding performance to keep Germany at bay over a gruelling 120 minutes of play. With the game locked at 0-0 and seemingly destined for penalties, Italy stole it right at the death with two goals deep into extra time. Cannavaro topped off his fine defensive display by initiating the counter-attack that led to Italy’s decisive second goal.
After an impressive first period, France reached half-time of the 1998 FIFA World Cup™ final with a deserved 2-0 lead over star-studded Brazil. A red card threatened to change their fortunes, but Emmanuel Petit & co. dug deep to preserve the lead, the dynamic midfielder latching onto a through ball to score a well-struck left-footed effort to seal the victory late on to secure France’s maiden FIFA World Cup™ victory.
At his sixth international tournament, Lothar Matthäus captained West Germany in their 1990 FIFA World Cup™ opener against FR Yugoslavia. He opened the scoring with a powerful left-footed effort after showing great ball control. His second of the night was even better. Receiving the ball from midfield, Matthäus went on a stunning solo run, shimmied past an onrushing defender and then scored with a stunning long-range effort. Matthäus later dubbed the 4-1 victory as his best match for Germany.
Late in May 1999, Peter Schmeichel captained Manchester United in his final game – the UEFA Champions League final against Bayern Munich. With the German side leading 1-0, Schmeichel kept his side in the game with a couple of saves that would prove crucial as United scored two quick-fire goals in injury time to secure the trophy. Schmeichel celebrated the winning goal with a cartwheel in an iconic moment. The victory meant Schmeichel finished his time at the club with a historic trophy treble.
If there is one goal that shows how great a player Robert Pirès was, it has to be his goal for Arsenal against Aston Villa in 2002. Receiving a bouncing ball on the edge of the penalty box, Pirès nonchalantly knocked the ball over the defender’s head using the outside of his right foot with his first touch. He only needed one other touch to beat the goalkeeper, letting the ball bounce twice and then gracefully lifting the ball over the goalkeeper’s head with the opposite side of the same foot.
Mexico played Netherlands in the final game in Group E in the 1998 FIFA World Cup™. Luis Hernández already had two goals to his name from Mexico’s opening match, but it was his goal against the Netherlands that was truly memorable. In the 94th minute, Hernandez latched on to a long ball which the Netherlands defence struggled to clear and, through sheer determination, he beat the goalkeeper on the stretch to prod home an equaliser and complete a two-goal comeback for Mexico.
Having stormed through the group stage at the 2000 UEFA Euros, the Oranje faced FR Yugoslavia in the quarters. Patrick Kluivert quickly found the net in spectacular fashion, showing great ball control after a brilliant one-two. He followed up with an equally sublime goal with a perfectly-timed run and clinical finish. Yugoslavia were stunned when Kluivert completed a remarkable hattrick early in the second half, with the match ending in a 6-1 victory.
Marco van Basten helped the Netherlands to reach the final of UEFA Euro 1988. Playing against a Soviet Union side which had defeated the Netherlands earlier in the competition, the Oranje were 1-0 up when Arnold Mühren crossed to the back post from where Marco van Basten unleashed a stunning volley from a tight angle. The Netherlands went on to lift the title with van Basten’s goal widely regarded as one of the greatest goals in the history of the competition.
Thierry Henry is widely regarded as one of the finest players of his generation and his goal against Manchester United in 2000 is a great example of why. This was one goal where Henry didn’t need to use his blistering pace. Receiving the ball wide of the goal on the edge of the box and with his back to goal, Henry flicked the ball up with his first touch, then turned and hit the ball in one fluid motion. Goalkeeper Fabien Barthez had no time to react and the ball span into the far corner.
It took until the 119th minute of the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ semi-final for Italy to break the deadlock against Germany. With Germany then piling men forward, Italy hit them on the counter and substitute Alessandro Del Piero almost immediately doubled the lead, placing a first-time finish with the inside of his foot into the top corner. The goal cued wild celebrations and sealed Italy’s place in the final which they would go on to win.
Laurent Blanc may have missed the 1998 FIFA World Cup™ final, but he was still a huge part of France’s success in the competition as he scored the first ever golden goal in World Cup history in the Round of 16. Drawing 0-0 with Paraguay and with the game seemingly heading for penalties, France were desperate for the winning goal and flooded the box. Defender Blanc, in the perfect poacher’s position, got on the end of a knock-down and calmly hit a low first-time shot into the back of the net.
Having been in excellent form throughout Milan’s 2006-07 UEFA Champions League campaign, Clarence Seedorf’s biggest performance came in the second leg of the semi-final against Manchester United. Trailing 2-3 from the first leg, Seedorf assisted the opening goal before scoring with a well-placed volley for the second in a 3-0 win, helping the club reach the final. Seedorf’s performances throughout the campaign earned him the UEFA Best Midfielder award.
Ruud van Nistelrooy was in scintillating form against Fulham in 2003, scoring all of the goals as Manchester United ran out 3-0 winners. The Dutchman clinically netted his second hat-trick of the season, which included a magnificent solo effort. Faced with a mass of white shirts when he picked up the ball near the halfway line, van Nistelrooy spotted a gap and exploited it superbly, beating six defenders as he charged into the box before producing a cool finish.
George Best's career highlight came in the 1968 European Cup Final at Wembley against Benfica. With the game tied at 1-1 going into extra-time, Best made the difference. Taking an exquisite first touch to beat the last defender, Best's dummy allowed him to go around goalkeeper José Henrique to slot into an empty net. Two further late goals from Manchester United sealed a dramatic victory as they won the European Cup in their home country.
Spain had a wealth of incredible attacking talent at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ but it was defender Carles Puyol who scored the crucial goal in the semi-final against Germany. In the 73rd minute, he was so determined to meet a corner that he jumped in the way of team-mate Gerard Piqué, who had looked destined to head it. Thankfully for them both, Puyol made a perfect connection and powered a header into the top corner, sending Spain into their first ever FIFA World Cup™ final.
The diverse, creative Italian sometimes known as Il Divin Cotino (The Divine Ponytail) led his national team in three World Cup tournaments and picked up numerous accolades, despite never lifting the famous trophy. The midfielder took his talents to nearly all of the top clubs in Italy, often finding himself to be the finest player on the pitch no matter who he was playing with or against. Baggio possessed killer instincts on the ball, finding space or passes that few others would have even noticed, and his curling free kicks still show up in highlight reels around the football world.
An imposing, yet inspiring figure on the pitch, German midfielder Ballack was as complete and well-rounded as they come throughout his decorated career for clubs like Bayern Munich and Chelsea, as well as at the international level. His physical abilities and aggressive style were complemented by a surprisingly ferocious shot—he scored more than a handful of goals from distance over the years. Ballack also had an extremely high football intelligence, able to set the flow and tone of a match from his midfield vantage point.
Universally-lauded defender Baresi was a one-club man, spending his entire club career marshaling the backline for Milan. The Italian’s tenacity and raw defensive talent allowed him to play at the highest level for two decades, earning multiple scudettos, Champions League titles, and even a World Cup winner’s medal with Italy in 1982.
Having been schooled in the art of Total Football by Johan Cruyff during his days in the academy (and later the first team) of Ajax, Bergkamp had experience at nearly every position. This meant that the Dutchman was just as strong of a teammate as he was an individual, and he thrived in a number of attacking partnerships for club and country as the main forward, as well as in a ”number 10” playmaking role behind another striker.
The greatest player to ever hail from Northern Ireland, Best was a superstar without equal for much of his career. He was perhaps one of the most naturally-talented dribblers in the history of the sport, combining speed, technique, and an uncanny balance on the ball that forced defenders to constantly guess what he would do next.
The large French defender was a rock in the back for the many clubs he played for over the course of his career, as well as the French national team with whom he won the 1998 World Cup. In addition to world-class defending, Blanc was highly respected at the highest levels of football because of his leadership skills.
A core member of the Real Madrid squad that dominated the Spanish first division in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Butragueño is still one of the most prolific strikers in club history.
A key figure in Arsenal’s famous “Invincibles” squad that went undefeated in the 2003-04 Premier League season, Campbell was one of the most commanding and intimidating center backs in English football.
A defender whose individual accolades could fill multiple pages, Italian center back Cannavaro is one of the few defenders who stood out so far above the rest that he even outshined those in flashier attacking roles. He captained Italy’s only World Cup-winning side in 2006 and capped the year off with his incredible Ballon d’Or win—he is still the only defender to receive the illustrious award since 1996.
One of the best attacking left backs in the history of the game, Roberto Carlos' privileged left foot delighted at both club and international levels. The Brazilian’s iconic free-kick goals transcended the game itself making him one of the most successful footballers ever.
Nicknamed “El Maestro” for his ability to conduct a match from midfield, Costa was a perfect “number 10”-type attacking midfielder who organized the players in front of him and had the vision to send laser-beam passes to them anywhere on the pitch. Unselfish and usually more likely to put in a seemingly-impossible pass to a teammate before taking a shot himself, the Portuguese legend actually had a brilliant finishing touch that showed up whenever the time was right.
A productive scorer for several clubs and the Argentina national team, Crespo was one of the most accomplished strikers of his generation. Whether popping up and poaching on mistakes by defenders or blazing into the box with the ball at his feet, Crespo always found a way to put the ball in the back of the net—even when it seemed impossible.
The Dutch playmaker had a strong career for both club and country, picking up important trophies with Ajax, Barcelona, and the Dutch national team. Known for his incredible technique and creativity, Cruyff created one of the most popular skill moves in the game, the Cruyff Turn. His style also became synonymous with the Dutch style of play called “Total Football,” which he helped to pioneer and perfect during his time as a player and coach.
With a mix of creativity, tactical awareness, impeccable technique, and relentless industry, Deco was a well-rounded midfielder. His accurate passing and potent mid-range shooting gave opponents nightmares and allowed Deco to shine at both the club and international level.
Regarded as one of the best Italians to ever play the game, Alessandro Del Piero enamoured football fans around the world for over two decades with his flawless technique, lethal finishing, and accurate free-kicks. A 2006 FIFA World Cup winner, Del Piero will be remembered as a prolific goal scorer who was able to convert in every tournament he participated.
A defensive cornerstone no matter which team he was on or what position he played, Desailly never wavered from his strong, non-nonsense style on the pitch. His physicality, aerial ability, and knack for accurate, crunching tackles meant that he spent much of his career as a central defender, but the French World Cup-winner also thrived as a defensive midfielder. In that role, he could use his ball-winning abilities to regain possession, then show off passing and dribbling skills by kicking off counter-attacks quickly and accurately.
One of the earliest legends of the game, Portuguese striker Eusébio da Silva Ferreira (known only as Eusébio), dominated at the club and international level at a time when his country was not particularly known as a football powerhouse. He led Portugal to a third-place finish in the only World Cup they qualified for during his international career, and helped Benfica shock the world by scoring two goals in their 5-3 win over Real Madrid in the 1962 European Cup (now the UEFA Champions League) final.
Considered by many as one of the best English defenders of all time, Rio Ferdinand combined relentless, hard-nosed defending with unique elegance, technical ability and precise ball distribution. Ferdinand's leadership and excellent vision helped him win numerous trophies with Manchester United and become a staple of the England national team for over a decade.
The Portuguese winger is notorious for his switch from Barcelona to Real Madrid in the middle of his career, but his full tenure in Spain shows why he’s one of the best non-Spanish players the league has ever seen. Figo was an assist machine for club and country, utilizing quick movement and world-class dribbling ability to fly down the flank and curl beautiful crosses in for his teammates.
The aggressive, passionate midfielder was famous for his hard tackles, near-unlimited energy, and ability to read the game from midfield and make quick reactions. Gattusso played a big role in the era of massive Milan success in the 2000s, and was a key member of Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning squad.
Perhaps the most important player in the history of Liverpool Football Club, local boy Gerrard rose through the academy before breaking into the first team and cementing his place for more than a decade. Gerrard’s list of accomplishments and highlights is rather long, but he is perhaps best remembered for his performance in the 2005 Champions League final, where he masterminded his team’s historic comeback after going down 3-0 to AC Milan.
One of the most successful players in football history, Giggs won countless trophies with Manchester United during his 23 years with the club. The Welsh winger was all speed and trickery for much of his career, blasting past opponents on the flanks and leaving others dazed by his footwork and artistry on the ball.
A complete, versatile and dynamic player, Ruud Gullit had the ability to play admirably in multiple attacking positions. A key member of legendary AC Milan and national Dutch teams, Gullit's unmistakable quality and look remain fan favourites.
The greatest Romanian footballer of all time and one of the best midfielders in the world during his career, Hagi was a creative, unpredictable force of nature on the pitch. Hagi was a perfect number 10 at his best, capable of playmaking from just about anywhere in midfield with keen tactical intelligence, inch-perfect passing, and mazy dribbling ability.
One of the Premier League's all-time great strikers, Henry's incredibly elegant yet unbelievably deadly finishing won him the Golden Boot four times in his eight years at the club. A World Cup winner on home turf in 1998, the Frenchman remains the country's top scorer having amassed 51 goals in 123 appearances.
Although thriving at many of the clubs he played for in Mexico, Argentina, and the United States, Hernández truly thrived on the international stage. Nicknamed “El Matador,” Hernández holds the joint record for most goals scored by a Mexican player at the World Cup after notching four in the 1998 tournament in France.
With a career spanning multiple eras of Real Madrid dominance, Hierro’s tenure in the Spanish capital was packed with success. Hierro was a hard-nosed, steadfast defender who also spent plenty of time in midfield—which explains the 102 goals he scored during his long career.
The speedy, slender striker known as “Pippo” was a pure finisher, instinctive in his runs and opportunistic like few others. The Italian was famous for being a poacher, constantly getting into the penalty box and pouncing on loose balls and mistakes by defenders.
Even though Klose had a long and prolific career for multiple clubs throughout Europe, he’s best known for his exploits with the German national team. Klose appeared in four World Cup for his country, finally winning the prestigious tournament in 2014. The lanky striker is the second most-capped German international in history, and still holds the Die Mannschaft scoring record after securing it prior to his retirement in 2014.
Even though Dutch forward Kluivert looked the part of a traditional forward, thanks to his height and strength, his world-class status was due to the combination of those physical gifts with a deft first touch and raw speed. His partnership with Brazilian forward Rivaldo at Barcelona was perhaps the most feared striker duo in world football at the time, as the pair complemented each other’s styles perfectly.
Despite starting his career with West Ham United, London-born midfielder Lampard became a Chelsea legend after 13 years and 429 appearances for the club. A versatile midfielder, Lampard was as proficient in his tackling and defending as he was creating chances and scoring goals at the other end of the pitch. Lampard picked up a number of trophies during his Chelsea tenure, including three Premier League titles and a UEFA Champions League medal.
One of the most prolific strikers in Celtic history, Swedish goalscorer Larsson excelled at nearly every club for which he suited up. Larsson was tremendously well-rounded, combining speed, vision, intelligence, and composure to a world-class scoring touch.
Danish playmaker Laudrup played for some of the most storied clubs in the world, highlighted by his stint at Barcelona, in which he was a key member of Johan Cruyff’s “Dream Team.” One of the best passers in the history of the game, Laudrup was also highly technical on the ball—his feints and skill moves are spoken of in hushed tones, like modern myths.
The rock between the sticks for Arsenal’s “Invincibles” squad, Lehmann earned the UEFA Champions League record for consecutive clean sheets while playing for the London club. On top of his club exploits, Lehmann was a mainstay in the German national team for a decade, making the squad for three World Cups.
While Lineker stood out at the club level, scoring consistently for Leicester City, Barcelona, and Tottenham, the shrewd striker is most remembered for his exploits on international duty with England. Not only was he the first Englishman to earn the World Cup Golden Boot, Lineker currently holds the record for most World Cup goals scored for his country—10 across the 1986 and 1990 tournaments.
Part of Ajax’s famous 1995 Champions League-winning squad, Litmanen is considered by many in his home country to be the greatest Finnish footballer of all time. The crafty playmaker’s international career lasted 21 years, and he secured the records for most caps and goals for Finland, both of which he still holds today.
Considered by many to be the greatest defensive midfielder, if not of all-time, at least of his generation. The French international thrived in La Liga with Real Madrid, but it was after he joined Chelsea in the English Premier League that Makélélé truly cemented his status as an all-time great. His marking of opponents and reading of the game were revolutionary, and all defensive midfielders since have been held to the Makélélé standard.
With five UEFA Champions League winners’ medals and countless other trophies, one-club man Maldini led Milan to greatness for 25 decorated seasons. Versatile enough to play all across the backline, Maldini put on a masterclass in defending every time he stepped onto the pitch.
One of the most gifted footballers of all-time, Maradona was a fearsome dribbler who could make any defender look lost. He lit up the 1986 World Cup with an astonishing run and finish against England, dribbling around almost half of the opposition, earning him FIFA's Goal of the Century award.
The former World Cup-winning captain of Germany played a big role in shaping the definition of midfielders for decades with his flexibility and varied skill set. Whether it was putting a pinpoint pass into the path of a teammate or flying into a tackle to dispossess an opponent outside the penalty box, Matthäus was the perfect example of a midfielder who could do anything on both sides of the ball.
Renowned for captaining England to their only World Cup triumph in 1966, Moore was a tough-tackling, natural leader who inspired those around him. Though his all-time appearances record has since been broken, Moore remains one of the most famous and respected players in English football history.
After impressing enough to earn a move to Perugia in Serie A, Nakata was a mainstay in Italy’s top division for most of his professional career. This also earned him a consistent role in the Japanese national team, for which he appeared in three separate World Cup tournaments. Nakata was a creative playmaker with remarkable passing vision and an extraordinary ability to pop up in the penalty box with a precise, late run.
The legendary Brazilian striker's deadly mix of explosive pace, lethal finishing and dazzling skill made him one of the most feared strikers in the world. A two-time Ballon d'Or winner, Ronaldo Nazário became one of Real Madrid's famed galácticos when he joined the club.
A world-class talent, Nedved is widely considered to be one of the best players in Czech football history. His eye for a cross from the flank or an incisive pass from midfield helped him rack up the assists for clubs like Lazio and Juventus, as well as the Czech Republic national team.
The imposing and intimidating Italian defender racked up numerous accolades during his 20+ year career, including two UEFA Champions League wins and three Serie A titles at club level and a World Cup winners’ medal. His hard-tackling ferocity was complemented by impeccable tactical vision and a quiet elegance on the ball not often seen in center backs.
Considered one the best African players to ever step onto a football pitch, Jay-Jay Okocha was a powerful and skilled attacking midfielder. With enviable technique, speed, dribbling and power, Okocha excited fans around the world for almost three decades.
The Dutch winger was the pure embodiment of his position; Overmars was incredibly fast, a dribbling wizard, and able to pass and shoot with both feet. During his time at clubs like Ajax, Arsenal, and Barcelona, Overmars terrorized fullbacks with blazing runs down the flanks; he would then use the space he opened up to pass to a teammate or cut inside to take a shot on goal.
One of the most prolific English goal-scorers, Michael Owen's rise to stardom came at a very young age during the 1998 World Cup. Blinding speed, intelligent movement, accurate passing, and lethal finishing were some of the attributes that made Owen a goal-scoring machine.
The only player to score more goals for Brazil than Ronaldo Nazário, Pelé was quite simply one of the greatest footballers of all time. Six Brazilian Championships, three World Cups and over 600 competitive goals in a career spanning 21 years justify his status as one of the all-time legends of the game.
A defensive midfielder for some of the world’s top clubs, Petit formed powerful partnerships in the center of the pitch at every stop. His ability to break up attacks and shield his defense also played a massive role in France’s 1998 World Cup-winning run, in which Petit appeared in all but one match.
A key member in Arsenal’s famous “Invincibles” squad, Pirés was a multi-faceted attacker who spent most of his time on the left wing. In addition to numerous accolades at club level, Pirés also earned a World Cup winner’s medal with France on home soil in 1998.
Sobering defending and long curly locks were Carles Puyol staples throughout his career. A hard-nosed defender, Puyol's grit, determination, and leadership inspired those playing around him and earned him the respect of his rivals. Puyol was a key cog in teams that won the biggest trophies in the world. With ample success at club and international levels, the Catalonia native will go down in the history books as one of the best defenders of his generation.
Madrid native Raúl Gonzalez Blanco (known simply as Raúl) broke into the Real Madrid first team at only 17 to become the youngest ever to play for the club. The Spanish striker went on to earn numerous honors with Real Madrid, including six La Liga titles and an impressive three UEFA Champions League trophies. Raúl also topped Real Madrid’s all-time scoring chart for a number of years before being surpassed by Cristiano Ronaldo.
Despite his status as a bruising and hard-tackling defensive midfielder, Rijkaard was quite versatile and able to play in just about any outfield position when called upon. The Dutchman’s most prominent strengths were his tackling and vision, but he showed his shrewd creativity and incisive passing when moving further forward in midfield. It was this flexibility that earned Rijkaard a long list of accolades for club, country, and as an individual.
Brazilian Rivaldo’s technique played a big part in his versatility, which is why he thrived at numerous offensive positions for both club and country. As FC Barcelona’s unstoppable attacking threat during the five years with the club, he highlighted that tenure by becoming La Liga’s top scorer in the 1998-99 season with 24 goals, leading the club to their second consecutive league title. In 1999, Rivaldo won the Ballon d’Or and was crowned FIFA World Player of the Year. He also shined for his national team for a number of years, winning the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 after earning a second-place finish in 1998.
One of the last true bohemians of football, Ronaldinho personifies what Jogo Bonito is all about. With endless creativity and superb technique, the Brazilian attacking midfielder was equally capable to score a beautiful goal or to serve the perfect pass for his teammates to shine. Ronaldinho won the biggest trophies in the world and he did so while playing beautifully and with a smile on his face.
A tremendous physical presence in the box, Peter Schmeichel is regarded as one the greatest goalkeepers to ever play the game. A two-time winner of the IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper, Schmeichel became a revered Manchester United icon. With 24 trophies and 11 goals to his name, many will always consider the Danish keeper to be the best of all time.
Scholes entered the hallowed group of one-club men after his two decades in midfield with Manchester United, where he was part of the most successful squads in the club’s history. His versatile abilities made him more than fit to play any midfield role, which is why he was often shuffled around as players came and went around him during his tenure.
A true superstar of the UEFA Champions League, Dutch international Seedorf is still the only player to ever win the world’s biggest club competition with three separate clubs—Ajax (1995), Real Madrid (1998), and AC Milan (2003 and 2007). A versatile midfielder who was asked to play many different roles throughout his career, Seedorf thrived with the ball at his feet in the final third, where he could break down defenses with his footwork or an incisive pass to a teammate.
The quintessential English target man-style striker, Shearer was a big, bruising presence in the box who was just as likely to plow through a defender as he was to blast the ball into the back of the net. Shearer still holds the all-time goalscoring record in the English Premier League, having notched 260 total goals for Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United over 14 seasons.
Ukraine’s all-time leading goalscorer led the line for Dynamo Kyiv, Milan, and Chelsea throughout his accolade-drenched career. An old school striker whose technique was as effective as his raw power, Shevchenko’s ability to finish with both feet and head terrorized defenders in Italy and around Europe.
The Brazilian playmaker was a technical genius, crafting and molding matches around him through his careful, thoughtful passing and vision. Sócrates could slow a match down at will, forcing both opponents and teammates to play at his desired pace. Though he did well at club level, the myth of Sócrates has always been much more pronounced regarding his extensive tenure with Brazil, for whom he appeared in two World Cups and two Copa America tournaments.
The best Bulgarian player in history, Stoichkov earned his country’s only Ballon d’Or nod in 1994 after multiple successful seasons at Barcelona. Part of Johan Cruyff’s “Dream Team” at the Spanish club, Stoichkov’s prolific scoring helped Barcelona to four LaLiga titles and a Champions League trophy. Secondary Title: David Trezeguet
French striker Trezeguet was an absolute terror during his 20-year career, especially during his decade-long stay with Juventus. Trezeguet earned multiple titles with Turin club, as well as with Monaco in his native France, but also helped his country to their first World Cup win in 1998. His striking talents were wide and varied; Trezeguet could score with either foot or his head with ease, and his ability to pop up and smash a loose ball into the net was legendary.
The former Ajax and Milan striker is one of the most prolific in history, despite having his career cut short by injury. A three-time Ballon d’Or winner along with numerous club and country accolades, Van Basten was known for consistently scoring seemingly-impossible goals using his uncanny finishing and penchant for on-field acrobatics.
A decorated goalkeeper with few equals in the modern era, van der Sar racked up trophies and broke records on a regular basis throughout his career. The Dutchman was a complete and versatile goalkeeper, as his traditional traits like height and agility combined well with his technique and incisive passing abilities.
A traditional, yet complete, forward at the height of his game, van Nistelrooy was one of the most consistent strikers of his generation. Whether with Manchester United in the English Premier League or Real Madrid in LaLiga, van Nistelrooy always posted impressive scoring numbers. Despite his size and stature, the Dutchman also boasted impressive speed that he would exploit against offside traps or to shake his marker when running onto a through ball.
The talented Argentine playmaker’s career took him to a number of clubs in England, Italy, and Argentina, where he was prized for his creative passing and tactical vision. Though his physical traits might suggest a more defensive style of player, Verón was best with the ball at his feet, where he could use his technical ability and, when the opportunity was there, break out his clinical finishing.
With a powerful and tenacious style of play, Patrick Vieira was able to control a football match from the midfield with few equals. The combination of his physicality, athleticism and technique allowed Vieira to become one of the most complete midfielders of the modern era.
Arguably the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the game, the “Black Spider” remains a Dynamo Moscow icon, the club where he spent his entire 20 year career. Estimated to have kept 270 clean sheets and saved over 150 penalties, Yashin remains the only keeper to ever win the Ballon d'Or.
The multitalented defender nicknamed El Tractorspent nearly his entire career flying up and down the wing for Inter Milan, with short stints in midfield whenever the club needed his particular talents in a different role. The Argentine thrived on both sides of the ball, able to send in a flawless cross in one moment and come flying in with a tackle the next. A consummate leader and professional, Zanetti also captained both club and country for many years and famously only earned two red cards in his 22-year career.
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